I can’t avoid talking about its appearance in Chased by Sea Monsters, where, outside of being portrayed as a marine reptile, it was also infamously depicted as being capable of caudal autotomy, that is, being able to break off its tail when attacked by a predator, like some modern lizards. That idea was actually proposed by German paleontologist Rupert Wild, who was heavily involved in research on Tanystropheus during the 20th century. Notably, he thought that Tanystropheus was closely related to lizards, with it being part of the lepidosauromorphs. But several subsequent studies placed it and other “protosaurs” as archosauromorphs not long after Wild’s initial 1973 classification. In a 1975 paper, Wild cited one specimen from Ticino as allegedly sporting an autotomized tail, with the break-off point being at the 14th caudal vertebra, with textures on the vertebrae supposedly supporting that. However, subsequent studies have all dismissed Wild’s interpretation.
Although I was familiar with the seen in CbSM, I wasn't awrae that it had been historically suggested as an idea. Seems remarkable to think that with odd proportions of Tanystropheus, that it might be capable of losing other parts of the body.
Probably because it COULDN’T do that. Hence why future studies all disputed that idea by reexamining that one Ticino specimen. By all accounts, Wild’s interpretation was mistaken and it also hinged a lot on his belief that Tany was closely related to squamates, which no future studies have supported. I merely brought it up because a lot of people (including you it seens) seem to be under the impression that CBSM just outright fabricated that, when they didn’t. Most of the creative liberties in the WW had some basis on science, even if they often fell back on dubious sources of evidence such as fragmentary fossils and controversial/dated theories.
To clarify my previous comment, I meant seems remarkable that people thought it was possible (I always thought it was wild speculation). It just seems like an unlikely strategy for an animal with such unbalanced proportions to be further compromised.
It does seem that the WW... series did like to use 'facts' to back up claims, even if they were incredibly unlikely hypothesis to begin with.
There’s a big difference though, plesiosaurs had many, many more neck vertebrae, allowing for greater (though still limited) neck flexibility. Tanystropheus, on the other hand, only had 12-13 very elongated neck vertebrae, making its neck much more ridged, more like a giraffe or azhdarchid pterosaur’s. Couple that with the likelihood that Tany was more of an amphibious animal and a capable walker, it and plesiosaurs really aren’t all that similar, sans being diapsids and the “long neck” thing.
That bipedal Tanystropheid is certainly interesting. However, it should be noted that one of the authors of the paper that described the movement of Langobardisaurus contains David Peters.
Illustration was only trying to indicate being able to stand briefly on hind legs. Similar behaviour to a standing meerkat or running for short bursts on hind legs like a basilisk. I don't believe that it moved around bipedally all the time.
Your write-up calls them Dinocephalus, but the full name is Dinocephalosaurus. Is that a deliberate abbreviation, then? Also it looks very convergent with both nothosaurids and plesiosaurids, which is very cool from a Tanytropheid. Btw, there are fossils of trackways in Germany purported to be from Tanystropheus species that show that it lunge-hunted, floating through the water until it spotted a fish and then thrusting itself with frog kicks to use its long neck like a javelin. A very weird and inefficient hunting strategy from a coastal hunter if true, but hey that's the Triassic for you.